Trip to the Taj - 4 - After the Taj Mahal

After visiting the Taj Mahal, we stopped by a showroom/store where the 10th generation descendants of artists who had built the Taj made marble items (e.g. table tops, pill boxes, coasters)using the same inlaid marble technique. Before going on to the shopping part, we watched about 4 artists work on the marble and semi-precious stones.

Because of the nature of their work (high precision, attention to details), we were told that the artists usually retire at about 45 -- as years of practicing their craft would already have affected their eyesight and hands. The artists are then given a pension and scholarships for the education of their kids by the Indian government.

The formula for the glue that is used is said to be as secret as the formula for Coke. The glue can only be melted once and if a mistake is made in the design, the entire work is ruined. Such craftsmanship explains why the goods are quite pricey. The cost does not actually depend on the size of the item but on the intricacy of the design. For table tops, for example, the cheapest we saw was being sold for an equivalent of P20 thousand.

We likewise went on to see the Agra Fort, which served as the capital of the Mughal Empire. This was where Shah Jahan and his family lived and where he was also imprisoned by his ambitious son. Today, 30% of the facility is open to the public/tourists while the remaining 70% is actually used by the military.

We had a buffet lunch at The Oberoi at Trident and stopped at the Country Inn for an evening snack. We finally got back to the hotel at 10:45pm - what a day! Seeing the Taj Mahal up close and in person, though, was well worth it.

And so ends this series on the India visit... It's one of the most memorable trips I have taken -- largely because of the culture being so different from ours, the strong sense of history that you get as you go around, and the shopping was great! If you ask most Filipinos who have previously gone to India - chances are you won't get that positive a response. Prior to my going there, only my mother-in-law was encouraging. Now, friends and relatives are amazed at how much I enjoyed the trip. All in all, it was such a pleasant surprise and I ain't complaining...

[By Angelica Viloria | Friday, May 9, 2003]

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